Election 2014  
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"An Extreme Choice" -- What Two of Wisconsin's Leading Progressive Journalists Think About Mitt Romney's Pick of Paul Ryan

"He’s to the right of both President Bushes. I think he’s to the right of Dick Cheney," says Matthew Rothschild of the Progressive Magazine.

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Now, what’s fascinating is that about a couple months ago, when he was going to speak at a Catholic university, a number of Catholic scholars wrote a letter saying, "You know, we kind of have a problem with this, because Ayn Rand was an atheist who was very condemnatory of what we think of as Catholic social justice teaching and all that." Well, Ryan immediately ran over to the  National Review, did an interview and said, "Well, I’m not really a fan of Ayn Rand." It was a bizarre thing, because he was distancing himself from a hero.

AMY GOODMAN: Think Progress writes, "Rand described altruism as 'evil,' condemned Christianity for advocating compassion for the poor, viewed the feminist movement as 'phony,' and called Arabs 'almost totally primitive savages.'"

JOHN NICHOLS: But there’s something more than that. All of that, she did not back Ronald Reagan in 1980 because he was anti-abortion, because she thinks—she thought abortion was a great idea—maybe not for the best of reasons. Now, the fascinating thing is that despite Paul Ryan’s wild attempts in recent months to very much distance himself from Ayn Rand, there was a quote in the  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday from his brother Tobin, who said, "Oh, Paul can quote every verse of Ayn Rand." And so, I think it’s very important to understand that Paul Ryan—I don’t think he’s an atheist. I think Paul Ryan melds extreme right-wing Catholicism, particularly on social issues, with Ayn Rand’s philosophy as regards government and a very kind of selfish image of how we should relate to others.

AMY GOODMAN:  Speaking at a fundraiser in Chicago, he welcomed Paul Ryan to the race, calling him the ideological leader of the Republican Party.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It’s an idea propagated by the other side that somehow we’re going to grow this economy from the top down and that if people at the top are doing really, really well, then everybody else is automatically going to benefit. Now, this kind of top-down economics is central to Governor Romney, and it is central to his running mate. Just yesterday morning, my opponent chose his running mate, the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress, Mr. Paul Ryan. And I want to congratulate—


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: No, no, no, no. Look, I want to congratulate Congressman Ryan. I know him. I welcome him to the race. Congressman Ryan is a decent man. He is a family man. He is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney’s vision. But it’s a vision that I fundamentally disagree with.

AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama at a Chicago fundraiser. Matt Rothschild, what President Obama was saying, that he is the chief ideologist of the Republican Party?

MATTHEW ROTHSCHILD: Well, I think that’s correct, and I don’t know why Obama needed to second the nomination of Paul Ryan there. Maybe he thinks it’s a big plus for his campaign. But, you know, Obama has been praising Ryan, in a way, for the last couple years. During budget negotiations, he praised him for his seriousness on his proposals on Medicare and Social Security and budget reform, even though he didn’t agree with him. But, you know, you’ve got to be careful what you ask for, because I think the glee that some people in the Democratic Party have about running against Romney-Ryan needs to be qualified, because it’s—it is possible that Ryan is going to help the ticket. And I think, as the ideologist of the Republican Party, this is a victory anyway for Wall Street. It’s a victory for the Republican Party’s right wing, because here you have a guy who’s out there, you know, peddling this stuff constantly about how great the free enterprise system is and how we need to cut government and how deficits are the worst thing in the world and we’ve got to focus on them as opposed to helping people. And so, you know, I think it’s quite possible that Ryan may help. He may help in Wisconsin, and he may help in some other states.

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